How to Manage Scale on Houseplants

How to Manage Scale on Houseplants: A Step-by-Step Guide

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‍Dealing with scale on houseplants can be a frustrating and persistent problem for plant enthusiasts. These tiny pests can wreak havoc on your plants if left untreated.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through a step-by-step approach to effectively manage scale infestations on your houseplants.

With the right techniques and a little persistence, you can successfully eliminate scale and restore the health of your beloved plants.

What is Scale?

Before we dive into the treatment methods, let’s take a moment to understand what scale actually is. Scale is a type of insect pest that typically appears as brownish, oval bumps on the leaves, stems, and other parts of your houseplants.

Unlike many other pests, scales do not move around actively on the plant. Instead, they attach themselves and extract sap from the plant, causing damage.

Scale infestations often leave behind a sticky substance called honeydew, which can further attract other pests or lead to the growth of sooty mold.

Step 1: Inspect Your Plant and Physically Remove Visible Scale

The first step in managing scale on your houseplants is to conduct a thorough inspection of the affected plant. You’ll want to physically remove any visible scales using a gentle scraping tool such as your fingernail or a toothpick.

This is especially important if you’re dealing with species of scale that have a hard outer shell, as spray treatments may not effectively penetrate them.

Carefully examine all parts of the plant, including the undersides of leaves, leaf petioles, stems, and flower stalks, as scale can attack various areas.

If you notice severely infected areas, it may be best to prune those parts and discard them. In extreme cases, where the infestation is severe, you might consider removing the entire plant to prevent further spread.

Step 2: Rinse Off Your Plant

After physically removing visible scales, it’s essential to give your plant a thorough rinse. Take your plant to the shower, bathtub, sink, or wash tub and rinse it with warm water. Avoid using cold water, as it can shock the plant.

Use the shower head’s spray attachment or a gentle stream of water to rinse all parts of the plant, including the undersides of leaves.

This step will help clean your plant, remove sticky honeydew, and wash away any scales that may be too small to see with the naked eye.

Step 3: Treat Your Plant

Once your plant has been rinsed and allowed to drip dry, it’s time to proceed with treatment. One effective treatment option for scale is insecticidal soap.

There are several insecticidal soaps available on the market, such as the Bonide Insecticidal Soap. Spray the soap solution on all surfaces of the plant, ensuring complete coverage. Don’t limit the application to areas where you saw scale; treat the entire plant.

Insecticidal soap works by suffocating the scales and disrupting their cellular membranes. It’s important to follow the instructions on the label for safe usage and to avoid harming your plants.

If you’re concerned about the soap’s effects on your plant, you can test it on a small portion and monitor for any adverse reactions. Another option is to use a horticultural oil or neem oil, which have insecticidal properties and can be effective against scale.

Step 4: Treat Your Plant Again!

A week after the initial treatment, it’s crucial to repeat the process to ensure the elimination of any scales that may have survived or hatched since the last treatment.

Follow the same steps as in Step 3, thoroughly spraying the plant with insecticidal soap or your chosen treatment solution. Pay close attention to all areas of the plant, including hidden nooks and crannies where scales may reside.

Step 5: Monitor Phase and Reapplication of Treatment If Needed

After completing the treatment process, it’s important to monitor your plants regularly. Keep a close eye on both the treated plant and any other houseplants in the vicinity.

Regular inspections will help you catch any scale infestations early on and prevent them from getting out of control.

Make it a habit to inspect your plants on a regular basis, checking for any signs of scale or other pests. By catching infestations early, you can take swift action and minimize the damage to your plants.

Additionally, maintaining a healthy and clean environment for your houseplants can help prevent future infestations.


Managing scale on houseplants requires a systematic approach and consistent effort. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can effectively eliminate scale and restore the health of your plants.

Remember to conduct thorough inspections, physically remove visible scales, rinse your plants, and treat them with appropriate solutions. Monitor your plants regularly to catch any signs of scale early on. With persistence and proper care, you can keep your houseplants happy and free from these pesky pests.

If you have successfully battled scale on your houseplants, we’d love to hear about it! Share your experiences and tips in the comments below.

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